I didn't know there was anything unusual about my hands until I was in sixth grade, sitting on the bus to an away game with the rest of the cheerleading squad. I rested my hand on the back of an eighth grader's seat, which is when she noticed my thumb.
"Oh my gosh! You have the same weird thumbs I do," she exclaimed."I've never met anyone else who has them!"
Weird? I thought. What's so weird about them?
Well, it turns out I'm one of whose thumbs are affected by brachydactyly type D, which sounds like a flying dinosaur but definitely isn't. More commonly referred to as "clubbed thumbs" and often comically called "toe thumbs" (delightful!), brachydactyly type D is an inherited condition in which "the end bones of the thumbs are shortened but all the fingers are normal," according to . In addition to our thumbs being pretty stumpy, those of us who have clubbed thumbs also have wider-than-average, shorter-than-average thumbnails, and they have no backward arch to them.
There are no dire complications related to brachydactyly type D — at least not medical ones. But anyone who's lived with these quirky digits — and there are an estimated 1 to 2 million of us in the U.S. alone — know that there are plenty of "side effects" that come with them.
If your clubbed thumbs are the first clubbed thumbs someone has ever seen, there will be questions. "Did you slam it in a door or something?" No. "Is the tip chopped off? Oh jeez, no! When you show them that both of your thumbs are clubbed — as is the case in three-quarters of those affected by brachydactyly type D — and explain you were just born this way, expect incredulity.
As a beauty editor, I receive lots of products to try out, including the latest adhesive nail styles. Not once has the widest nail in any set ever entirely covered my thumbnail. I'm forced to accept that my natural nail (which I can try to paint to match the fake nails) will be exposed on either side, or I can wear the press-on nails on just my other fingers. Sigh.
The pad of a clubbed thumb takes up a comical amount of space. Inevitably, this means constant typos.
"One, two, three, four, I declare a thumb war" are nine of the most terrifying words someone with clubbed thumbs can hear. Let's use this adorable gif as an analogy, shall we? Your friend's thumb is the St. Bernard, and your squooshed little thumb is the kitten. No matter how much you try, your thumb will never conquer theirs, and they could easily crush you without much effort.
If it requires a long, backward-arching thumb, it ain't gonna happen.
A few years ago, the internet realized that extremely conventionally attractive actress Megan Fox has clubbed thumbs. AND THE WORLD ENDED. "Oh man, these are some terrible thumbs," . "One of my roommates said, 'She's pretty but her thumbs just freak me out.' I quickly googled the thumbs and, oh my god," . COME ON. She's incredibly beautiful regardless of the shape of her thumbs.
I have attempted to learn to play the guitar three separate times, and all three times, I quit because it hurt so much to hold the neck correctly. And don't even get me started about how widely some piano chords require you to spread your hands.
As rare as clubbed thumbs may be, I've been lucky enough to encounter several other people who share my tragic affliction. And I've hugged them all within five minutes of meeting them.
For some reason, lighter bowling balls often have smaller finger holes. I suppose the manufacturers expect dainty lady fingers are the most likely to be inserted in the eight-pounders, but I've got news for them: Some of us dainty ladies have husky thumbs.
You've heard of hitchhiker's thumb? A clubbed thumb is essentially the complete opposite.
Luckily, this DIY stress ball is squeezable by all kinds of thumbs.